Rev. Alban Butler (171173). Volume VI: June. The Lives of the Saints. 1866.
St. Maximus, Bishop of Turin, Confessor
HE was one of the lights of the fifth century, and was indefatigable in preaching the word of God, as Gennadius takes notice; for which function he eminently qualified himself by making the holy scriptures the subject of his continual study and meditation. He assisted at the council of Milan in 451, and at that of Rome under Pope Hilary, in 465, in which latter he subscribed the first after the pope. He died soon after this year. We have a considerable number of his homilies extant on the principal festivals of the year, and on several saints, as St. Stephen, St. Agnes, St. Laurence, St. Cyprian, &c. In his homily on the holy martyrs Octavius, Aventius, and Solutor, whose relics were kept at Turin, where they had received their crowns, he says, All the martyrs are to be honoured by us, but especially those whose relics we possess. They assist us by their prayers; they preserve us as to our bodies in this life, and receive us when we depart hence. In his two homilies on Thanksgiving,1 he earnestly inculcates the duty of paying daily the homage of praise to our Creator, for which he recommends the Psalms: he strongly insists that no one ought ever to neglect morning and evening prayer, or his thanksgiving before and after every meal; he exhorts all persons to make the sign of the cross before every action, saying, that by the sign of Jesus Christ (devoutly used) a blessing is ensured to us in all things. We have several other sermons of St. Maximus in the new edition of St. Ambroses works; and Mabillon2 has published twelve others. In the fifth, the saint declaims against the abuses of New Years Day, reprehends the custom of making presents to the rich at that time without giving alms to the poor, and condemns hypocritical formalities of friendship in which the heart has no share. The tenth is written Against heretics who sell the pardon of sins, whose pretended priests exacted money for absolving penitents instead of bidding them do penance, and weep for their offences. M. Muratori, in his Anecdota,3 has given us several other homilies of St. Maximus from a manuscript of the Ambrosian library above one thousand years old, written in Longobardic letters. From those on St. Eusebius of Vercelli it appears that the author was himself a native of Vercelli.4 The name of St. Maximus occurs in the Roman Martyrology, and several lessons from his homilies are inserted in the Roman Breviary. See Cave, Labbe, de Script. Eccl. Ceillier.
Note 4. The whole collection of the sermons of St. Maximus which are extant, is most correctly given, with Muratoris remarks, &c. by Polet, a printer at Venice, at the end of his edition of the works of St. Leo, anno 1748. [back]